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Immigration system hit 'breaking point' this week

A Central American migrant retreats from a U.S. border fence as an attempt to storm the border is repelled by tear gas (Screenshot KGTV-TV, San Diego)

The U.S. immigration system hit its “breaking point” this week, said the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s commissioner in a visit to the border with Mexico.

Kevin McAleenan, speaking Wednesday in an El Paso, Texas, neighborhood on the border, said “CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso.”

The CBP chief said the system’s “breaking point has arrived this week,” the El Paso Times reported.

McAleenan said that in the past two mornings, border officers took more than 12,000 migrants into custody along the border.

“A high number is 4,000 — 6,000 is crisis level,” he said. “Twelve thousand is unprecedented. On Monday, we saw the highest total of apprehensions and encounters in years, with over 4,000 in a single day.”

He said that at the present rate, the Border Patrol will count more than 100,000 apprehensions and encounters with migrants in March, the highest monthly total in more than a decade.

He urged Congress to craft solutions to expedite political asylum claims by migrants from Central American nations.

“The surge numbers are just overwhelming the entire system,” McAleenan said.


Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warned that the immigration system is facing a “near systemwide meltdown.”

“The situation at our Southern Border has gone from a crisis, to a national emergency, to a near systemwide meltdown, Nielsen said as she delivered the update.

She said 98 percent of illegal aliens caught at the border in 2017 remain in the U.S. today.

Nielsen said a wall is part of the solution, and Congress must change the laws to speed up deportation.

“DHS has built the first border wall to go up in a decade,” she said. “We are building more, and have plans for hundreds of new miles to block illicit goods, illegal entry, and help ensure a safe and orderly migrant flow.”

Islamic terrorism is still the biggest terror threat, she said, adding that her department also is paying attention to right-wing domestic terrorism.

She said the DHS, created 16 years ago, can’t handle all of the threats, emphasizing the “whole of society” must be engaged.

“The ground beneath our feet has shifted. Our enemies and adversaries have evolved. And the arms of government are swinging too slowly to protect the American people,” she said.